We have been spending a great deal of time and focus lately on social media.  Not all of it I agree with, nor think it works.  Oddly enough so much of having a presence on line demands it.  If you visit any of those sites that rank websites, the first thing you discover is how much of your ratings are dependent on social media.  Regular postings show you are actively engaging an audience.   Unfortunately if you have a business Facebook page they will not actively show your posts unless you pay them.  Pinterest is one of my favorites and is just a blast because it constantly inspires and challenges me with new ideas.  Twitter doesn’t make any sense to me what so every, unless you are a celebrity or high profile personality with hoards of followers.  I have yet to see it work effectively in a business application.  I have just recently discovered Instagram!  I think Instagram is a really great theory, to create a visual tapestry of ones existence.  But I have been following it for a couple of weeks now, and do not find too much on it that really engages me.  It seems that it is either targeted toward absolute naturalism or utter artsy commercialism.

I researched a lot of photographers in my area, some use it, but most don’t.  So how effective is it all really?  I have been tracking the numbers and have noticed a steady climb on people visiting the site increase almost 3 times, so there is some truth in it’s usage.  But to me it’s becoming more about the fun of doing it.  I have recently begun adding feeds of Instagram and Pinterest to the site.  I think it’s visually exciting seeing them there.  Creating something that’s interesting and hopefully reflects and weaves into my own visual tapestry.

Last weekends wedding was so Montana. I love my job! #westernmontanawedding #cyrphotoweddings #missoulaweddingphotographer

A photo posted by Terry Cyr Photography (@cyrphoto) on

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Logan Studio WindowLast year my photography business grew so much I could barely keep up with it most of the summer. Most of the year I was 3 weeks behind on all my processing and getting orders back to clients. Photography is not just about taking of pictures; there is a whole other part of it that needs to be completed that no one ever sees. I have always tended toward the rule of thirds, not just within the frame but also as my business model. A third of the time is shooting, a third is processing and a third is business, advertising and operational. This year I finally took on an assistant who has turned into a most extraordinary asset to my work and company. His name is Logan Prichard, he will be a sophomore at the University this fall, majoring in dance. Logan is one of those rare kids that just intuitively jumps in and makes things happen. I give him a brief overview of something and he just runs with it. He is diligent and painstakingly detailed in everything he has taken on, from processing images, website optimization and marketing, to set up of equipment for shooting. He brings a fresh new perspective to the business. Now hopefully I will begin to free of some of my time to focus more of the business and marketing and the creative end of Cyr Photo LLC.

Logan layout

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Arizona LandscapeI am not much of a  landscape photographer.  Growing up and living in Montana a great portion of my life I am awestruck by the landscapes that constantly surround me.  It is something I feel in my soul!  When I was first starting out in photography I used to go out everyday and try to shoot these landscapes, but always come away deeply disappointed with the results, because it never seem to capture the essence of that I felt amidst such grandeur.  I worked and worked at it it for several years, and it just never clicked for me.  Eventually I gave up and began to focus on what I knew best, theater and entertainment.

Not to say I don’t appreciate great landscape images.  Was a huge fan of Ansel Adams and studied and worked with his black and white theories of the Zone System.  One of the people who stirred my enthusiasm for this style was a Montana photographer: Tim Cooper.  Tim was one of my instructor when I was first learning the craft.  Since he has left Missoula and moved on, but his works still inspire me.  Recently he sent me a link to a lecture series he is doing sponsored by B&H photo.  This is a great lecture for those who are interested in improving there skills for shooting the great outdoors.  It’s a bit long but well worth watching.  He uses a lot of really great examples.

 

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Classic Mime doing his art in field in with ababdon house and mountians of Montana behind.Last weekend I made a commitment to myself to write a blog every Sunday morning for the next year.  This morning as I woke up I was excited about what the blog this week might be!  I really wanted to write about certain technical processes that photographers use in their decision making to create the images they do: how depth of field tells a creative story within the image.  Then I thought maybe it should be something historic, perhaps how the expressionism movement of Alfred Stieglitz opened photography as an art form.  Was it to be about my website crash this week that took me in a new direction of my own presentation?  How about a shoot or project I am currently working on.  Then it began to dawn on me, that perhaps I just needed to create a preface about the obsessive nature of who a photographer is?  I do classify photography as an art form.  It is one of those processes that one never gets to the bottom of.  There is never enough time to create all that we have in our vision.  I have been a photographer for 17 years now and it never gets old.  Every day there is something fresh or exciting about what I am doing, it constantly challenges me.  It allows me to express my deepest feelings and emotions.  As I am working on creating this new website I am awestruck how much I have grown over the years.  What does this website become?  What is it I want to show others about who I am and my creative process.  Suddenly it dawns on me, a blog is the perfect place to share this obsessive creative process.  The site no longer becomes a mere marketing tool but a conversation on style, form and technique.  I used to teach classes to want-to-be photographers on how to turn their cameras past auto and begin to express their own creative expression through the process of creating images.  The camera is an extension of who we are and how we perceive the world that surrounds us.  Most of my waking moments are caught up within this process.  I see how lucky I am to have stumbled into something I could become so passionate about.

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Young couple about to embrace outside a barn after their wedding in Western Montana.I am a photographer with a website featuring my work covering a wide gamut of styles, but have had a difficult time optimizing it for the web.  I began looking for a solution to compartmentalize my site and be able to focus my marketing campaigns on specific targets.  I came up with the idea to break my site into subdomains.  The more I researched it the more I could see where this could work to my advantage.

Many people where not aware of the various types of photography I can do, but only know me for a certain type of work.  I am actually quite diverse in what I can and will shoot.  I love all forms of photography.  I recently made a decision to break my website into sub domains.  This means I can break each genre I work with in into self-contained units.  For instance I just finished an entire section on wedding photography and am now moving on to creating a sub domain that will showcase my skills as an Arts and Entertainment photographer.  There are several practical reasons to work within sub domains; optimization and find-ability on the web.  Photography is one of the most difficult markets to optimize one’s self for.  For the most part it’s quite generic what a photographer is.  Yes I take pictures, but my markets are defined by the things I am interested in and the types of work I can do.  Most photographers focus on that one thing they do well.   Cowboy behind the chutes getting ready to ride in the Helmviille Rodeo.It is relatively easy then to optimize for that single thing, but my world of photography encompasses such a wide field of work.  I shoot Cowboys and Rodeos, Theater, Dance, musicians, weddings, all kinds of portraits, and am probably one of the best headshot photographers in the state of Montana.  When you search the web for these specific types of work, I typically come up on top.  But there are certain areas where I don’t come up at all.  As a wedding photographer I seem to bounce from the front page to three pages deep and everywhere in between.  This is a very big market for my region with many photographers targeting the same market.  In the old way optimizing was difficult because I had to focus on several different markets.  Working within subdomains I can create a completely independent site that focuses on one specific market and everything is optimized for that specific market.

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Color Headshot laid out with nameplate below.With summer theater auditions coming up, I’ve been working on headshot photography lately. I have a consultation this afternoon and another one tomorrow.  And I am just finishing up one from last week.  Headshots are one of my favorite things to photograph, probably because I worked in the entertainment business for so many years and know the importance and value of creating ones that work.  It seems there are several photographers in my area that say they do headshot photography, but in reality they are doing interesting snapshots of people in interesting positions and calling them headshots.  This is not all there is to the process and should not be dismissed so lightly.

A headshot is a highly crafted image with one specific purpose, to create a lingering impression of who the subject is so they will get hired for specific types of work; namely themselves as performers or models.  I instantly began working on headshots when I first became a photographer, mostly because no one was doing it and I knew so many people that needed them.  I had a strong connection to theater people.  And I remember my first attempts where quite disastrous, namely looking more like a portrait then an actual headshot.  So the big question then is what sets a headshot apart from a portrait?  They both create a likeness of the subject right?  If good they both should capture the spirit and essence of the person, that’s a given.  I often think what separates the two is that one becomes a reflective look of the subject while the other becomes an active look at the subject; the headshot then pulling out and looking at the person’s personality in a clean way that actively invites us into their world.  The actor/teacher Stanislavski coined the phrase “The eyes are the windows to the soul”.  It is a focus on projecting this into the image that makes for a successful headshot and separates it from the portrait.  We as professional photographers have many tools at our disposal that help us reinforce this concept, namely our ability to focus and control light.  Lighting for a headshot therefore is more direct.  It illuminates the eyes, so we can see into the soul.  The second part of what make a great headshot is to then work the image to heighten and engage the quality of the image to match the personality of the subject.  This is working within the tonal range and placing these tones where you want them for maximum effect and begin the focus into the subjects eyes.  The headshot is probably one of the most complicated photographs I work on and this is why I love to do them so dearly.  They take a lot of time and a working of the image with my client to get it just right.  After all, this is what leaves the lingering impression that gets them recognized for jobs in their future.

FULL HEADSHOT SERVICES BY TERRY J CYR PHOTOGRAPH

 

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Cowboy laughing with my buddy behind the shoots as he is getting ready to ride at the Helmville Rodeo.My piece went for $1900.00 at the auction last night.  I was utterly stunned when the piece came up for bid and so many of the bidding paddles hit the air.  I was not anticipating this what-so-ever.  The man who eventually bought it introduced himself to me right before the auction and we talked about the Rodeo and it turned out his wife was actually in the background of the image.  She said to me “That was such a cold day” and I laughed and said it certainly was.  We looked at the image and sure enough there she was in a winter coat.  I told them about my connection to Montana, being from here, and growing up at on the ranch west of Missoula.  He recognized that I was a part of the Cyr clan the other side of Alberton.  He said he was going to buy this piece and hang it at their cabin at Placid Lake.

I spent most of yesterday leading up the auction in a sort of state of limbo.  I am not the type of person who puts himself out there in the spotlight very often.  It’s one of the reasons I worked backstage in the theater.  I tend to think of myself more as a craftsman who is obsessed with the process of creation and never really need to take a bow.  So began to feel myself beginning to retreat from myself when I arrived.  Thank goodness I had two my best friends beside me to support me.  On average most of the pieces where going for what they were valued at through the beginning of the bidding up until my piece came up.  I had put a price on it of $850 and originally thought that was high for a piece of photographic art.  When the piece was held up there was a hush in the crowd and I remember thinking this isn’t good.  But then as the bidding began it seemed as if the entire room erupted with cheers.  I could not see who all the bidders were but then the prices kept climbing into a sort of frenzy, with what looked like many people in on the bidding process as I watched spellbound.  My heart was racing so fast and it was a thrill I would say was comparable to when I sky dived a couple of years back.  I was almost breathless when the auctioneer closed it and tears welled up in my eyes.

One of the things that startled me most was that I was a first time artist at the event.  I have not really sold much of my imagery, mostly because I didn’t know how.  It seems to be such an expensive endeavor to create works for charity events.  There was a very good showing of arts in so many different mediums, so many really stunning pieces, by so many artists I have admired and adored for decades now.  My piece was the 12th highest selling piece of the evening of 110 pieces at the show, certainly the highest photographic artwork.

Last year I was really questioning the value of photography as works of art.  Weather the format has become devalued because we live in the modern digital error were it seems accessible for everyone to shoot.  I talked to so many artists that are painters whose works continually sell for great amounts and I have always felt being a photographic artist somewhat limited what I could do or the acceptance of photography as an actual form of art in this modern media driven culture.  I designed this piece to become a classic work that would endure.  Printed on a beautiful satin metallic surface, suspended as if floating in a heavy black drop frame.  I was awestruck seeing the Robert Mapplethorpe piece that was hanging in the Museum the last several months and it become the base for my own vision of this piece.

Everyone keeps saying, “Well this must give you a great sense of validation.”  I don’t necessarily feel it for me, but I feel it for the art of photography and what it can become.  It is something I love that I have wrapped my existence around for years, something that is now always taken seriously in many art circles.  Tonight was a revelation that photography can stand on it’s own.

I am utterly contented this morning and now the encouragement to begin thinking and working toward bringing my imagery into a more presentational artist form.  Thanks to all who support my work and help me maintain my vision.

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